News / Toronto

Women's March turns focus on local issues ranging from homelessness to health care

More than 2,000 people say they plan to attend second Women's March to take place January 20 at Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square.

A reported 11,000 people attended the 2017 Women's March in Toronto. This year, the event is focusing on local issues and the theme of &quotDefining the Future."

Torstar News Service

A reported 11,000 people attended the 2017 Women's March in Toronto. This year, the event is focusing on local issues and the theme of "Defining the Future."

A year after the Women's March on Washington and countless satellite marches around the world, Toronto feminists are dusting off their pussy hats for Round 2.

The second Women's March, to take place Saturday at noon at Nathan Phillips Square, will commemorate "the anniversary of a historical moment in time" when women everywhere said "no to hate and yes to justice," says the event page on Facebook. More than 2,000 people say they plan to attend.

But where last year's march was largely a scream of protest, the theme of this one is defining the future, organizer Bianca Spence said.

The movement now has "many threads," and participants will march to raise awareness of a whole host of issues — from gender-conscious city budgeting to homelessness, to health care, to the need for more women and marginalized people to run for public office, Spence explained.

Despite the focus on challenges, "this event isn’t about what we don’t want to see," she added. It's also going to be about celebrating hard-won successes over the year that saw the rise of the #MeToo movement.

"I think a lot of women have found their voice," Spence said. "A lot of people in the media, and the world, are listening to women and believing women a little more."

Planned speakers include Ward 27 councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and writer and spoken-word artist Whitney French, who writes speculative fiction about a "fantastically imagined" future, Spence said.

Dawn Maracle, an Indigenous educator and member of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Nation, will open the event with an acknowledgement of the traditional territory where Toronto stands. She'll also speak about issues that particularly affect Indigenous women, such as violence, and the colonial history awareness initiative she runs at institutions around the country, the Kairos Blanket Exercise.

Also speaking is Janelle Hinds, founder of Helping Hands, an organization that connects minority and newcomer youth to volunteer opportunities and runs practical workshops on how to get involved in the community.

Hinds, who is 25 and a trained engineer, will touch on issues of diversity and women's representation in the tech sector and the need to include youth in decision making.

"I'm really focused on making sure that youth and diverse people have a voice," Hinds said.

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